Family, friends mourn painter killed in crash

21-year-old art student hit by car fleeing police called intense, talented

September 12, 1999|By Neal Thompson | Neal Thompson,SUN STAFF

Fellow students, friends and family members yesterday mourned the death of Marc David Levy, a promising painter with an eccentric flair who was killed Friday when a driver fleeing police slammed into his car.

Levy, who turned 21 last month, was a senior at the Maryland Institute, College of Art, a school of 1,200 in downtown Baltimore, where he majored in painting.

He was driving his Honda Civic when a 1999 Nissan Altima with at least two police cruisers following it ran a red light at East 27th and St. Paul streets and broadsided him.

Yesterday, relatives gathered with Levy's parents, Stephen and Miriam, and their other son, Jason, 17, at their Reisterstown home amid oil-on-canvas self-portraits Levy had painted. They recalled the artistic traits of a young man described as "intense," "talented," "driven" and "eclectic."

Marlene Berman, an aunt, said Levy had tried Little League baseball and soccer as a youth, but soon gravitated toward art. "He was always artistic, as soon as he could put a crayon in his hand and do something with it," she said.

Levy loved music -- especially the band The Cult, which he saw in Las Vegas during a recent family vacation -- as well as the 1960s television show "Dark Shadows" and the green, clay children's show character, Gumby. "He had very eclectic tastes," Berman said.

Peter Drake, a New York painter who taught at the institute last year, remembered Levy's dyed-black hair and his vivid paintings, which Drake described as intimate and autobiographical, yet cryptic and "funky."

"His work seemed to almost mirror his life," he said. "It could be something as simple as a finger pointing at a knot in a tree, but it seemed to take on a heightened importance because of how he directed your focus."

At Levy's apartment house in the 1200 block of St. Paul St., he was known as polite, but shy and quiet. He had a tight group of friends, mostly fellow students, who flowed in and out of his apartment.

"He and his friends would get together and sing Fleetwood Mac songs," said Midori Baer, who lived in an apartment adjacent to Levy before moving earlier this year. "He had lots of friends."

Baltimore Police charged a 17-year-old with no driver's license with vehicular homicide after the accident. A court hearing is scheduled for tomorrow to determine whether the youth will be charged as an adult.

Agent Ragina L. Cooper, a police spokeswoman, said police had recognized the driver of the Altima and, knowing that he did not have a driver's license, pulled him over near Barclay Elementary School at East 29th and Barclay streets. The driver fled, and police cruisers followed, Cooper said.

Police found 18 bags of a rock-like white substance, believed to be cocaine, in the Nissan, Cooper said.

Cooper said there were "conflicting statements" from witnesses as to whether the police cruisers had turned on their lights and sirens. She said police policy bans high-speed chases unless officers determine lives are in danger.

"Under circumstances like that, an officer has every right to pursue a vehicle," she said.

Services for Levy will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Sol Levinson & Bros. Funeral Home, 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.

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